Reefer Madness | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Reefer Madness 

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From the moment the thin-lipped, red-eyed, and reedy-voiced Dr. Alfred Carroll steps onto the stage at the top of the show to warn us of the dangers of "Mary Juana," it's clear that Some Mo' Productions' appropriation of the 1936 cult-film classic is going to be pitch perfect, right down to the way the doctor stands with his soft fleshy hands crossed protectively over his crotch. Part sharp satire, part gentle spoof, part loving homage, this stage version adapted by Sean Abley re-creates the original film's odd mixture of lead-footed propaganda and over-the-top hysteria (not unlike the recent Republican convention) while revealing its contradictory message: marijuana is bad and marijuana users lead wild, sexy, adventurous lives. The 14-member cast clearly relishes delivering the film's overheated dialogue, which is reproduced verbatim in the show-example: "He really swings out a mess of jive." And thanks to Jeff Rogers's restrained direction, they wisely avoid the sort of artless amateurish overplaying that makes humorless hash of otherwise funny camp (see Womandingo). Lines as simple as "This is Bill. He's OK" win big laughs in this production--even if you're not stoned. Factory Theater, 1257 W. Loyola, 274-1345. Through October 31: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM. $5.

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